Occasionally I meet businesses that mention their new mobile phone app or are considering getting an app developed for their business or services. When we discuss further, their decision to have their own app is often one of these reasons:

1.     This is where the growth is and it is an opportunity I don’t want to miss out on.

2.     Businesses are making lots of money from mobile apps with the world being their oyster.

3.     People will want my app once they know it.

4.     It will improve our customer service.

5.     We will be so much ‘closer’ to our customers.

So, are these the right reasons? Well, let’s have a look at some hard data and trends…

According to pocketgamer.biz’s constantly updated data, on average, the Apple app store grows by 1000+ new apps a day. In the month of May alone, a record number of 39,992 apps were submitted to Apple for approval! The total number of active apps (i.e. apps available for download) are 1.72million! So yes, I would think that it is true that mobile apps are growing at the speed of light however at the same time there are LOTS of people in this game!

Recently Nielson published their latest findings on mobile app usage in North America and three points stood out to me:

1.     In the last three years (Q4 2011 to Q4 2014) the average monthly apps used in United States has only increased 14.6% from 23.3 to 26.7 apps.

2.     However in the same period, the average time spent on apps has more than doubled from 18 hours 18 mins to 37 hours 28 mins per month.

3.     The biggest and fastest growing category in both the growth in number of apps (as per data from pocketgamer.biz) and usage of apps is gaming.

So what does this tell us from a marketer’s perspective? In my interpretation of the data and trends, basically the various apps are all just stealing market share (as the number of apps used has increased minimally over the last three years). Those apps that already have a high number of downloads (e.g. Candy crush, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp) have a high probability that they have a stronghold on the users.  If you’re only entering the market now, your app better be very good to be able to get a share of the attention and ultimately of the wallet!

Does this translate to New Zealand? It’s no surprise that we couldn’t find any published data regarding us Kiwis (if you do know of any, please let me know!) However if we observe the trend and overall theme of the data as well as the fact that mobile apps reach globally, I don’t think we’ll be exempt.

Finally, here are some of my thoughts on the factors to consider and be aware of if you’re tossing up whether or not your business should have an app:

·         Cost to benefit advantage analysis- Besides the development and upgrade costs, this will become another channel for your team to manage. Do you have the time and capacity? Do you have a strong customer following that will love you enough to swap out one of their other apps for yours? How many downloads and active users do you think you’ll get?

·         Is this really what your customers want? Are there other ways of managing their expectations and needs that can be streamlined into your current communication channels?

·         If you’re in it for the money-think again- this is already a very saturated market and your app has to be bloody good to stand out and get the download volume you want.

·         It is easy to fall into the trap of your app becoming a white elephant if you’re only starting now.

 

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